Economy

More Money Does Buy More Happiness  

Researchers and economists have been debating this idea for decades, and a new study in the journal Emotion sheds more light on the role money plays in increasing happiness levels.

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"Does money buy happiness?" asked economist Richard Easterlin in a famous 1973 essay in The Public Interest. His conclusion was that once a certain level of economic development had been achieved, greater wealth and income did not lead to greater overall happiness. At an aggregate level, more money does not buy more happiness, he claimed.

A new study in the journal Emotion presents a challenge to the Easterlin finding. Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, and A. Bell Cooper, a data scientist at Lynn University, examined data collected from 44,000 adult respondents to the General Social Survey (GSS) between 1972 and 2016 and found that more money does, in fact, correlate with more happiness.

The survey asks respondents to report their happiness on a three-point scale: "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?" The researchers then parsed the data by income deciles, reporting that "twenty-one percent of those in the lowest decile described themselves as 'very happy' compared with 45 percent of those in the top decile; thus, those at the top of the income scale were more than twice as likely to be very happy than those at the bottom."

Others have challenged Easterlin before. In 2012, Daniel Sacks of the University of Pennsylvania and Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan published an analysis in Emotion finding that richer people are happier than poorer people within individual countries and that people in richer countries are happier than people in poorer countries. Over time, they found, increased economic growth leads to increased happiness. "The data show no evidence for a satiation point above which income and well-being are no longer related," the trio concluded.

Nevertheless, Easterlin and other scholars continue to argue that the "Easterlin Paradox" is real. Some cite 2010 research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Princeton economist and Nobelist Angus Deaton and his colleagues that supposedly found happiness does not increase once an individual's income reaches about $75,000 per year. What the study actually found is that more money does not affect the level of day-to-day joy, stress, and sadness but does correlate strongly with rising measures of overall life satisfaction.

The American editor Beatrice Kaufman once declared, "I've been poor and I've been rich. Rich is better." It turns out that she was right.

 

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  2. I’ve always believed money doesn’t buy happiness, it gives you options.

    1. Or, money doesn’t buy happiness.

      But you can rent it.

      1. Speaking from experience?

        1. We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. I blew a couple of months living expenses in 8 days. And it was a pretty amazing time. I got to stand a few feet away from a lava flow, jump from a tropical waterfall, see a supernova in another galaxy within minutes of it’s discovery while standing on Mauna Kea, swim with sleeping dolphins and a huge green moray eel, hike into the otherworldly blackness of a huge lava tube, fly over volcanoes that were erupting, and drink coffee in Kona on a mountainside coffee plantation veranda overlooking the pacific and the islands.

          It was hard not to be happy doing all of that.

          But it was damned expensive. And I didn’t get to keep anything other than memories.

          So yeah.. I suppose I do speak from the experience of renting happiness.

          1. It was hard not to be happy doing all of that.

            Depends on who you are. If rather than being on your honeymoon, you were there after your wife’s funeral or as a way to escape your abusive and dysfunctional family or there on a drug or alcohol binge, it would be very easy not to be happy doing all of that. At the same time, if you hadn’t had the money to do that and spent your honeymoon at a beach in Florida, you would have still been pretty happy.

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          2. ” I got to stand a few feet away from a lava flow”

            In Guatemala, you get to stand IN a lava flow. It’s a freer, much less safety conscious country. Lago Atitlan and surrounding volcanoes have been attracting celebrities like Che Guevara and Grace Kelly for decades. You will need a passport.

            1. ~~ looks at flights …

            2. In Soviet Russia lava flow stands on YOU!

          3. Sounds awesome except for the part about the eel.

    2. Yep. It’s not the money that buys you the happiness, it’s the freedom that the money offers which makes you happy.

    3. Money may not buy happiness, but it can certainly buy a much more palatable version of misery.

  3. It’s not that money doesn’t buy you happiness, it’s that at a certain point, more money doesn’t buy you more happiness. But that bar is pretty high, I’d like to know who this Easterlin surveyed to decide that money doesn’t buy happiness. Americans? By historical and world standards, poor people in America are some of the richest people who ever lived. So, yeah, you’re not comparing rich people to poor people, you’re comparing rich people to even richer people. If you’ve got electricity and running water and a roof over your head and a little food in the cupboard, you’re doing pretty well.

    1. Relative wealth influences happiness. Envy is a downer

      1. Anecdotal only, but my wife went down to Guatemala when she was in college to help build a school. She said everyone was beyond dirt poor, but they were some of the happiest people she’s ever seen. Also, I grew up relatively poor (by American standards), but I remember a pretty happy childhood.

        To be honest, I never really put much stock in any of these types of studies. Happiness is such a subjective concept that I don’t know how it can be accurately quantified or correlated.

        1. And now I see several people already expressed this thought down thread.

        2. And there’s the real challenge. It’s all self-reported. “Are you very happy?” Compared to what? Compared to my next door neighbor who’s going through a divorce? Compared to the other neighbor whose spouse has terminal cancer? Yeah, I’m pretty happy. But that doesn’t tell you anything useful about absolute happiness.

          By the way, divorces are expensive. So are medical treatments. So I’m pretty sure I’m doing better economically than my neighbors. But it’s not the money that’s making me happier or the lack of money that’s affecting them. Even at their best, these studies confuse correlation with causation.

  4. Money and happiness are two largely misunderstood and bastardized concepts.

    Money simply represents work.

    Happiness is the knowledge that your life is in order.

    It makes sense that as ones proficiency increases so does the value of their work. They can afford more luxury and attract a mate, raise a family and can better weather crisis. A life in good order.

    Beyond that, what does more money achieve? Power can be good or evil and misdirected. A life spent harming others is not a life in order.

    1. Spoken like a true socialist with the labor theory of value.

      Money represents value. The interesting thing about money is that it is the only unit of measurement that can bridge the gap between the subjective and the objective.
      Mine and someone else subjective idea about the value of something can be directly converted to objective value based on what I am will to buy or sell at.

      1. Monopolies, hoarding, bickering and haggling sounds more like an uncivilized source of conflict.

        That and the concept of interest are the corruption of economies.

        Some rich fuck sitting atop a growing pile of money doesn’t represent real growth of anything. It’s a bullshit game.

        1. “Hoarding”
          Looks like someone doesn’t know how money supply works.

          “Concept of interest”
          You mean the method by which those with the least amount of resources can increase their wealth with no increase in skills or labor?

          “Some rich fuck sitting atop a growing pile of money doesn’t represent real growth of anything. It’s a bullshit game.”
          And here we have ONE of the real sources of unhappiness – ignorance combined with envy.

          1. He’s only happy when he’s killing Jews and then lying about it.

      2. Rev, you’re a surprisingly rational and level headed guy when not talking about social issues. Go figure.

        1. I’m rev kuck, not Rev kirk

          1. My sincere apologies. I wasn’t aware there was such a close proximity, though I have noticed variations with chipper, chemjeff, and others.

            I’ll be more discerning from now on.

  5. Well, damn near everybody has no money because the governments shut down the economy and schools, and damn near everybody is unhappy, so – – – – – – – –

  6. The real take-home from this study is….

    studies of human behavior and psychology are only science-adjacent.

    This is particularly true when they are done by economists.

    Designing a truly blind experiment with objective endpoints that actually tests what the researcher thinks it is testing is exceptionally difficult when we are talking about psychology.

    Even in basic biological system it is difficult, and there you can have endpoints like “expression levels of MRNA for GabA-2”. But when you are trying to measure inherently subjective measures of inherently subjective experiences with inherently subjective variables?

    Yeah, hard to actually do science with those obstacles.

    So we get opinion pieces masquerading as science written by economists masquerading as psychologists.

    1. These sorts of things always reverse the causality. Is happiness correlated with money? Sure it is. But, happiness is also correlated with things like being well adjusted, working hard, having a stable family, a good job, and so forth. And those things are generally the necessary pre-conditions for having money. So, money doesn’t buy happiness. The things that make people happy and well adjusted usually also translate into making more money.

      Economists are by their nature completely unable to understand human psychology.

      1. Yes- consider this:

        “twenty-one percent of those in the lowest decile described themselves as ‘very happy'”

        In other words, the WHOLE thesis, that money makes you happy is untrue for 1/5th of the population.

        This is the worst thing about so called psychological studies. They are wrong 20 – 40% of the time, and the authors have the nerve to say that they’ve discovered something profound.

      2. But I got the correct p-value!

        1. See? Random internet guys get it…. why don’t academics get it?

          1. Their lively hood isn’t tied to shilling for this crap. If thir jobs depended on it they would be able to justify the crap that gets put out too

      3. I agree completely in general. But in my experience in the corporate world, where C-level execs can make gobs of money, the most successful execs were some of the most maladjusted and unhappy people I’ve ever seen. Their entire lives are devoted to climbing the ladder and spending whatever they make (or more) to show how successful they are. But they seem to be miserable overall.

        1. Some people are going to be miserable no matter what they do…

    2. “it is testing is exceptionally difficult when we are talking about psychology. ”

      I’m not sure it’s all that difficult. The problem is costs. A large, statistically unimpeachable study is a lot more expensive that a professor asking for a show of hands in a first year psychology class.

  7. Of course money buys happiness. That’s why the primary objective of Koch / Reason libertarianism is to increase the net worths of billionaires — we just want them to be happy.

    That’s also why it’s so heartbreaking that Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch is down over $5 billion this year because of Drumpf’s high-tariff / low-immigration policies.

    #HowLongMustCharlesKochSuffer?
    #HeCantBeHappyWithOnly50Billion

    1. You’re not a very happy person, are you?

  8. But given our strident, ideological times, who cares about happiness. The more important question is how money correlates with righteousness.

  9. “Happiness” is a state of mind that is not only very difficult (if not impossible) to define concretely and rigorously, but even if one could, it is correlated with so many confounding variables that trying to find a correlation with just one of them independent of the others is a nightmare of statistics and ultimately IMO a waste of time.

    Just be happy doing whatever it is you want to do. As long as you’re not violating the NAP, it’s all good.

    You know what really creates happiness? Being at peace and content with your own inner self. If that means having a six figure salary and driving around in BMW’s and Teslas, then do that. If that means living the life of the stereotypical Bohemian ‘starving artist’, then do that.

    1. “Happiness” is a state of mind that is not only very difficult (if not impossible) to define concretely and rigorously, but even if one could, it is correlated with so many confounding variables that trying to find a correlation with just one of them independent of the others is a nightmare of statistics and ultimately IMO a waste of time.”

      OMFG you pretentious mealy mouthed douchebag fuck. Could you be any more smoke filled dorm room. Just say happiness is a creme pie you fat gimp.

      1. Happiness could be a creme pie.
        Happiness could be spending 8 hours a day at the gym.
        Happiness could be masturbating to Trump rally videos.

        So what?

        1. So you’re a fat pompous windbag.

          1. Evidently, to you, happiness is trolling the Reason comment boards.
            You be you, Mr. Savage.

            1. You should have snuck in something about meat sticks or slim jims.

              Alinsky’s rules for internet trolls…. never let an opportunity to be snarky go to waste.

              1. I guess I am just too nice.

            2. Watch out Jeff randy is a macho man.

              Got any slim Jim’s?

    2. impressive mental self-flagellation

      1. What do you mean?

          1. i was more a Snuka fan but dude i miss you and your commercials.

      2. It is a solid comment. Misek said it in a more academic tone above, but the sentiment is solid. It is the foundation of several religions and philosophies, after all.

    3. But what if your state-of-mind happiness depends on controlling others, at least in constraining what their happiness depends on?

      1. Again there’s that whole NAP thing.
        If you derive happiness from seeing others suffer, then that is a mental disorder.

        1. So is needing a world where nobody thinks about things you don’t like, such as people who might not care about the suffering of others.

        2. Ever watched AFV? If you don’t take pleasure in the suffering of others then you’re in the minority. Humans are mean creatures.

  10. So much for my dreams of becoming a rich, miserable, old miser.

  11. Not 100% of the time though. I mean, look at George Soros for example. The dude is rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams, and yet he spends every minute of his pathetic life trying to destroy governments and societies that he doesn’t approve of.

    Nobody acts that way except a miserable, rage-filled motherfucker. Maybe it’s all the unresolved issues stemming from selling out Jews during the Holocaust to save his own ass.

    1. There are monks who live in total poverty who wake up every day content and happy. There are also people like the DuPont family born into effectively endless wealth who end up living miserable lives that sometimes end in suicide. Those examples alone should be sufficient enough to prove that money is not the variable that makes people happy.

      Ron Bailey’s pinheaded crude materialism is comical sometimes.

      1. Red Rocks had an interesting comment yesterday on the idea of a seemingly fulfilling life of materialism and fame via social media, that sounds relevant here:

        The peak state of living for these people is to have their ass glued to a couch watching streaming videos while some maid comes and cleans their house and brushes the cookie crumbs off their torso for most days, with occasional breaks to fly to exotic global destinations to take selfies.

        These are the kind of people who post shit on social media that makes it look like they’re living this amazing life, and one day they write this pages-long effort-post on how they’ve been battling drug or alcohol addiction and depression, and have been going to counseling or are entering rehab because they thought about killing themselves. They think someone else paying them to sit on their ass all day and CONSOOOOOOOOOOOOME media like a fucking zombie is going to finally provide them with the bliss they need to fill their spiritually and emotionally bankrupt lives.

        IMHO, purpose seems to be tied to happiness. Working to achieve something greater than yourself. Even if it’s evil, like in Soros’s case, for pretty much his entire life.

        1. “IMHO, purpose seems to be tied to happiness.”

          I’m sure there’s something to that on an individual level. But it doesn’t seem to explain things on a national level. Does Costa Rica have a purpose that America lacks?

          Scandinavian countries, Britain, Canada, Israel, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and others all do better according to the world happiness report. They measure corruption, GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and other factors.

          1. It sounds like they’re messing corruption. GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, and other factors, and assuming that’s happiness.

            Maybe. Maybe not.

            1. Who is they and what are they messing?

              1. For example, you say yourself that old age brings more misery, yet this “happiness” measure is a function of life expectancy. So, they would consider more time as an old man to be “happy”, while you would say it’s more time to be miserable. Apparently their happiness measure doesn’t fit you very well. How much worse it must be trying to fit such a measure on billions of individuals across thousands of cultures, each with their own varied human experience. At best, it sounds like a guess of who is most happy, based one the preferences of those inventing the measure.

                1. “this “happiness” measure is a function of life expectancy”

                  Life expectancy is a measure relevant to all people, not just old ones. A ten year old with a life expectancy of 80 years is likely to be happier than another ten year old whose expected to live until he’s 12.

                  “while you would say it’s more time to be miserable”

                  I’m not saying that at all. Childhood is probably a time of greater happiness not because adults find their lives increasingly miserable, but because it’s the time of an individual’s life when their security, provided by the family safety net, is typically at its strongest.

                  1. But the happiness of children varies greatly with their experiences despite safety nets.

                    For my example: a kid on summer vacation is happier than a kid stuck in a boarding school, although they have the same security. In fact, they legally have the same autonomy in terms of marriages, drinking, etc.

                    The difference is that the kid on summer vacation has a lot more autonomy in how he spends his day, while the kid at the boarding school is not. The other factors are the same.

                    1. “The difference is that the kid on summer vacation has a lot more autonomy in how he spends his day”

                      The kid on vacation may be very unhappy due to being separated from all his friends playing sports and studying at the summer school. Different strokes etc.

                      It’s possible that a child who spends more time in self directed activities like walks in the woods might be happier than a child at school whose activities are managed by others. The opposite could also be true.

                      If you think safety nets don’t make it easier for children to feel happy or secure, I understand. The whole idea of safety nets is anathema in the US and it’s hardly surprising to see them downplayed and denigrated.

                    2. So be it.

                      When I look back at childhood fondly, I’m not thinking “gee it was so great having food and clothing.” I have those things as an adult, too, so I don’t understand why someone would look back at their childhood for those things in some way that’s more happy than now, unless they’re really poor now, and they were rich then. I’m not poor.

                      I do remember the joy of freedom and exploration, when the world was new to me, and I had so much to learn. But, different strokes for different folks.

                    3. For example: Rosebud from Citizen Kane.

                      Kane was rich. I doubt the sled from his youth represented material security.

                      The sled was “Rosebud”, not the fridgerator.

    2. For many people, happiness is all about control.

  12. What did David Lee Roth say? Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a yacht big enough to sail up right beside it?

  13. I am 66 years old. I have been happy, and satisfied, much of my life. I have never made oodles of money. On the other hand, having more money does make it easier to do the things one enjoys doing.

    With that in mind, for most folks, working 40 hours per week is a reality no matter how much one earns. Looking back on my “career,” which included everything from factory work to truck-driving to sales to management to teaching to self-employment, one thing stands out: I was much happier, overall, regardless of how much I made, when I really enjoyed the work I was doing.

    That makes sense. For most folks, what they do for a living takes up most of their time. It can be difficult to be happy if one doesn’t enjoy, or at least find satisfaction in, what they do for a living.

    Being retired for a few years now, of course, I spend ninety percent of my time doing exactly what I want to do.

    1. I’m the other side of your coin. The last few years of my corporate life I made a lot of money, and I was miserable: trying to make impossible budgets, laying people off, interacting with high-level corporate douche bags. I retired very early and have never been happier, not so much because I can do what I want (although that helps) but because I’m not doing things that made me miserable.

  14. Money buys the thing that happiness depends on, which is autonomy. If you live somewhere you hate, go to a job you hate, can’t marry the person you want, or have to stay married to someone you don’t want to be married to; if you spend most of your time doing things you don’t want to do and not being able to do the things you want because you don’t have enough money, then it’s hard to imagine that you’re a happy person.

    Poor people have very few options.

    There have been numerous times in my life when I’ve had what I call “billion dollar moments”, where if I’d been a billionaire and could have been anywhere in the world doing anything I wanted, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else doing anything other than what I was doing at that moment.

    I once surfed a wave amid a pod of dolphins. I once saw Conflict do The Serenade is Dead at Fenders. I once had a woman so beautiful, it made me grateful for every bad thing that had ever happened to me up to that moment–just because it led me there. I once rode across Death Valley on a motorcycle in the middle of the night, when night sky was so bright, it lit the desert up and made it look like I was riding across the surface of the moon. I was practically penniless at the time, but I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.

    People who think that selling their autonomy short so that the government can solve their problems are actually selling the source of their own happiness short. Wealth makes it easier to do what you want to do, and autonomy is probably the primary key to happiness. The secondary source of happiness is probably a legitimate sense of self-worth. That can come in a number of ways, but the most effective are being of value to other people either through your work and your business or through legitimate charity work and making a difference in other people’s lives.

    Useless people with no autonomy are the most miserable people on earth.

    1. But Ken, as we hear more loudly every day, for many people the concept of autonomy induces sadness if not anger. And these same people preach the lesson that only dependency leads to happiness.

      1. It may seem like a paradox there between radical freedom inducing existential angst and autonomy being the source of our happiness, or it may be that the alternative to existential angst is not having a choice.

        The unhappiness that comes from not being free to make a choice for ourselves can be worse than whatever anxiety comes from having a choice to make–especially if happiness depends on autonomy and having a choice is what makes happiness possible.

    2. There is a great story about that… . I forget who told it, but it was somebody well known.

      A group of banker types went to the Bahamas for a fishing trip. They chartered a boat and went out for a couple of days of fishing with a captain who guided them. They had a fantastic trip. They were really impressed with the captain.

      So, being banker types they started talking business. The guy had one boat and worked every day of the year. They said he should leverage his boat and get a second boat, hire another crew and start building his business.

      “Why would I want to do that?”

      Well, if you get another boat and hire a crew, you can have more time off.

      “Why would I want to do that?

      Eventually you can make enough so that you don’t have to work every day…. you can retire. You can do what you want.

      What do you want to do?

      “I want to go fishing.”

    3. “and autonomy is probably the primary key to happiness”

      You don’t seem to have thought this through. Childhood is the time of life for many many of peak happiness and peak dependency. As we get older, we accumulate more which can be more burdensome. We also make more choices which tend to narrow the scope of possibilities open to us. Autonomy doesn’t take into account the fact that people with rich and varied social lives tend to outlive the socially isolated, often by decades.

      1. Slaves have the least autonomy, and I doubt they are the happiest.

        People’s happiness as children is most directly proportional to their autonomy. For example: compare a child on summer vacation, exploring nature, vs. a child stuck in a boarding school. Both are dependent, but one is much more autonomous and happy.

        1. Children don’t have autonomy. They can’t sign contracts, sue in court, drink alcoholic beverages, get married etc. Most children live in conditions of utmost dependency, on their parents, guardians or as wards of the state. This is true even when the children are on vacation or exploring nature. The parents are never far away.

          1. And yet I can remember the relative freedom and autonomy I had as a child exploring nature, even if it wasn’t absolute, and it seemed much happier than my best friend who got shipped off to bordering school.

            The ability to get married, drink, sign contracts isn’t high on the priorities of children, but the ability to enjoy a summer of freedom is, and this is directly proportional to their happiness, their inability to sue others not withstanding. The autonomy of that time is incredibly important.

            I’m sorry if your childhood was different. How old were you when the inability to get married bothered you?

            1. “How old were you when the inability to get married bothered you?”

              By the time I hit puberty, I couldn’t wait to leave home and strike out by myself. I did that as soon as I finished high school.

              ” even if it wasn’t absolute, and it seemed much happier than my best friend who got shipped off to bordering school.”

              I suppose you are not an intellectually inclined person. Some children would hate the prospect of being stuck in the countryside when the excitement of the big city beckons. That was true for me. Nature has its attractions, but I was always more curious about exploring the unknown. Alan Turing was so keen on going to boarding school he rode his bike some 60 miles to get there.

              1. So, what you’re saying is, you didn’t have autonomy as a child, but because you desperately wanted more autonomy, and that’s true for some children.

                Now you’re making my point.

                1. “So, what you’re saying is, you didn’t have autonomy as a child”

                  Not just me. Children in general are dependent on adults. They are not autonomous. Yet many people look back on their childhood as the happiest time of their lives. I said as much in the first comment:

                  “Childhood is the time of life for many many of peak happiness and peak dependency.”

                  “Now you’re making my point.”
                  I’m not sure what your point is, honestly.

                  1. I bet you don’t.

                    I’m saying that the autonomy of a child is very important to their happiness.

                    You seem to be saying that happiness isn’t a function of autonomy because children are happy yet not autonomous, even though you resented your lack of autonomy and wanted to gain it as soon as possible. That doesn’t sound very happy.

                    1. “I’m saying that the autonomy of a child is very important to their happiness”

                      I don’t think I’ve ever met an autonomous child. The children I’ve come across have been utterly dependent on adults for food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, transportation, and so on. I know I was.

                    2. There’s a difference between independence of material needs and independence of actions. I’m speaking of the latter, and a kid free to roam on summer vacation has a lot of that autonomy, despite the free food, shelter, and clothing they have. In fact, that helps make them even more autonomous, which is my point.

    4. Youth is wasted on the young.

      1. Prescription strength medication is wasted on the elderly.

  15. According to my sister-in-law, if you think money doesn’t buy happiness, you just don’t know where to shop.

    1. Is is sexist to assume that the sources of happiness are different for women, or is it sexist to assume that they must be the same?

      1. “Is is sexist to assume….”

        No, but it’s probably sexist to insist….”

  16. According to similar surveys, Costa Rica managed to beat the USA in happiness while being a lot poorer. And Costa Rica’s poorest Indian tribes are the happiest people in the country. It’s evident that more money does not lead to more happiness. Perhaps it’s more social equality. This would account for Costa Rica today and America’s golden age of happiness in the 50’s under Eisenhower.

    1. If being poorer makes you happy, then being unhappy is an easy problem to solve.

      1. “If being poorer makes you happy”

        It’s the social equality in countries that makes Swedes and Costa Ricans happier than Americans. Not their relative poverty.

        “then being unhappy is an easy problem to solve.”

        In America it is solved by suicide, especially among young people and military vets, and drug addiction for others. Making America happy again, one suicide at a time.

        1. And yet there are countries with high equality that are miserable, contradicting the notion that equality brings happiness.

          1. “And yet there are countries with high equality that are miserable”

            Which countries did you have in mind? I understand that the 5 nordic countries are rated the most equal and most happy. The US ranks lower in happiness than Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The US also ranks lower than any of these five nations in equality as measured by gini index.

            1. You can look up the countries by mini coefficient.

              As an example, the people of Algeria have a coefficient comparable to Norway and Finland. I have yet to hear anyone suggest we become more like Algeria, which suggests there’s more to happiness than equality.

              1. “I have yet to hear anyone suggest we become more like Algeria, which suggests there’s more to happiness than equality.”

                Have you not heard of the Black Panthers or the FLQ of Quebec? They were socialists who chose exile in Algeria back in the day.

                Algeria is an African country with many black people so it’s hardly surprising that you haven’t heard a lot of demand among Americans to become more like Algeria. I’d wager if you asked people in Sudan or the Central African Republic (which already have lots of blacks) if they thought their country should become more like Algeria they would be much more enthusiastic. Algeria has a good 10 years edge on Sudan in the average life expectancy area. And Sudan’s gini rating is near the bottom.

                “there’s more to happiness than equality.”

                I agree. But national happiness and social equality seem to go well together. Remember the world’s top 5 happiest countries, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, are also among the world’s most socially equal.

                1. “Remember the world’s top 5 happiest countries, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, are also among the world’s most socially equal.”

                  They’re also in the northern hemisphere within relative proximity to Russia, but that doesn’t mean that their common geography causes happiness.

                  I bet if I went looking, I could find someone who would want the US to be more like Algeria. I doubt I would find someone very convincing.

                  In a sense, equality and happiness go together, in that, a society where everyone is equally happy is more happy than a society where some are happy and some are not. But that is essentially a truism.

                  And yet, there are countries just as equal, or more equal than Scandinavia that are not happy, which shows that happiness is independent of equality, as well as proximity to Norway.

                  1. “but that doesn’t mean that their common geography causes happiness.”

                    I’m not suggesting that. I think social equality is more likely the culprit. It seems a better predictor than ‘having more money,’ as the article would have it.

                    “which shows that happiness is independent of equality”

                    Happiness and equality are two different things, no doubt about it. It seems to me that social equality is a better predictor of national happiness than material wealth.

                    1. “I think social equality is more likely the culprit. It seems a better predictor than ‘having more money,’ as the article would have it.”

                      But that’s the biggest difference: we have countries with the same level of equality, but the one with more money has more happiness than the one that does not. That’s definitely a function of having more money.

                    2. If you heard about country A with modest wealth and high social equality, and country B with high wealth and social inequality, which do you think would score higher on a measure of national happiness? (I would say country A, but don’t let that influence your thinking.)

  17. Say you don’t want no diamond ring, and I’ll be satisfied,
    tell me that you want those kinds of things, that money just can’t buy

    I don’t have a, lot of money, hope you’re not telling a lie

  18. i always thought money ruined my family’s happiness but i found out later nobody but me was happy in the first place

  19. There is a difference between consumption and equity. The two are both fungible to varying degrees, but so long as wealth is in one of those states, it does not have the same effect as wealth in the other.

    Consumer wealth does indeed correlate with happiness. You have a nicer house, nicer vehicles, better food, more luxuries, etc. There is pretty obviously an upper bound on this – if you already have the world’s most luxurious versions of these things, gaining a billion dollars isn’t going to make a perceivable difference. Does a solid gold toilet actually yield a better experience than a high-end non-gold toilet?

    But Jeff Bezos isn’t consuming $180B in resources. He’s probably not even consuming $1B in resources. He has the nicest things money can buy, and then… he has a ton of additional money. The socialist concludes that his “excess” money is going to waste and should be taken from him. The socialist is wrong. His “excess” wealth is equity in his business. As the creator of that business, he has more legitimate claim to own it than anyone else. Certainly more than the state has! His ownership is meritocracy at work, and all humanity benefits from having the builders of great things continue to own them.

    Does this ownership make Jeff happier? To an extent. I’m sure he derives a lot of pride from it. But it’s also a BURDEN. What’s that Spider-Man line? “With great power comes great responsibility?” Does it make Spider-Man happy? Mostly not. The recurring theme of those comics is that he has to sacrifice his own happiness because he has so much responsibility. And yet the responsibility must be his – others don’t handle it nearly so well!

    Equity wealth is responsibility. It needs to exist, and it’s much better if it’s in private hands than government hands. But it often makes its owners less happy in the Epicurean sense. It leads to more stress, long hours… all of the problems that the business acquires fall on the owner! It’s no surprise that “studies” show that greater wealth doesn’t make these people happier. It means more problems!

    But that doesn’t imply that we should take the wealth from these responsible, deserving owners and give it to the incompetent.

  20. “But that doesn’t imply that we should take the wealth from these responsible, deserving owners and give it to the incompetent.”

    That’s exactly what it implies if we want a happier society. That is what socialistically inclined countries and regions like Britain, Scandinavia, Canada and Costa Rica are showing us.

    1. If we give everyone in the world all the wealth equally, that comes to about $30k/person. Most people in those societies would be much less happy with that.

      So much for wealth equality.

      1. “Most people in those societies would be much less happy with that.”

        I’m not most people. I’ll take your 30 grand if you are worried about it making you unhappy.

        1. I doubt most people would agree on a ration of $30k/lifetime, unless they were extremely poor, much poorer than the people in Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, etc.

          If that’s your situation: I’m sorry.

          1. “I doubt most people would agree on a ration of $30k/lifetime”

            It would depend on the strength of the public safety net. If it were expanded to include medicine, education, housing, internet and phone connections, public transportation and the like, people might be happy to accept it.

            1. They can’t fund a strong public safety net, since, if we give everyone an equal measure of the world’s GDP, they each get $10K/year. Most countries don’t even tax people who make that much, since it’s so hard for them to take care of themselves, much less others.

              Therefore, they’re very likely to be unhappy, much less happy then they currently are.

              1. ” if we give everyone an equal measure of the world’s GDP”

                I think GDP wouldn’t be used. Socialists like Amartya Sen have been very critical of the number as a measurement of wealth. They have other communistic ways to measure wealth. GDP doesn’t make all that much sense. An increase in traffic congestion or cancer incidence means a higher GDP. Same with ecological and weather disasters.

                1. Since the world happiness report probably deals with income, the best current approximation is global GDP, and is accepted by most economists by consensus.

                  If you have a better way to measure the effects of dividing the income of the world up equality, I would love to hear it. As it stands, these are the numbers we have.

                  Also, that global income depends on a world organized around capitalism: embracing inequality and property rights. Once those are gone, and we’re equality distributing income to the competent and the incompetent, as you say, global income plummets, despite the equality.

                  It seems highly suspicious to look at these numbers and conclude that we’d all be happy with global equality.

                  1. “the best current approximation is global GDP”

                    It may be the best. It’s just not very good. Wasting time and energy in a traffic jam increases GDP. There are other examples of undesirable phenomena that pump up a nation’s GDP. This is the reason why socialist economists such as Amartya Sen see limited usefulness in the number. You can get more info from this book:

                    Mismeasuring our Lives

                    http://library.lol/main/82F7F3C4E2DF26F5382C0B4792D1A5E6

                    1. That doesn’t really matter, because we’re talking about a measure of capacity in GDP. If communists disagreed with the “good” or “bad” judgement of GDP and it’s components: well, great, they’re in charge now, and they’re dividing it all up equally, which I assume would take all those bad judgements away.

                      That’s what we’re talking about: how wise would it be to divide all wealth and income equally, as opposed to the current configuration, where we spend GDP on wasteful things like traffic jams?

                      The numbers suggest that it wouldn’t be very happy at all.

                    2. “That’s what we’re talking about: how wise would it be to divide all wealth and income equally”

                      I don’t want to spend an equal amount of time stuck in traffic jams as everyone else. An equal share of things that enhance life and the pleasure we derive from it is a much more attractive proposition. This is why Sen and other socialistic economists are critical of the GDP number. It includes all manner of phenomenon that we’d avoid if we could.

                    3. My argument doesn’t depend on the value judgement associated with GDP. If communists would use it better, then so be it, but that doesn’t create more GDP.

                      As it stands, dividing income equally would fail to meet all of the living wages estimated for even the poorest parts of the USA, by a long shot.

                      Given the choice to have their income now and sit in traffic jams, or have equality, most people would be much less happy with equality.

  21. Kobe Bryant and his daughter died flying in a helicopter to her basketball practice.

    Sometimes money buys you death.

    1. Yep. And the list of rich and famous celebrities and rock and rollers on top of the world who committed lifestyle suicide in their 20s and 30s seems almost endless.

      In fact, most of the obvious druggies I’ve known in my life were higher up on the wealth and status scale. It always seems especially pronounced among the trust fund kid types.

      My feeling is, if you’re really so happy, why are you drinking and drugging yourself up so damn much? I know that when I drink too much, I usually feel like total shit for at least half of the next day!

      1. That’s not a problem if you never stop.

  22. Happiness can’t be measured across societies, because it actually means different things in different societies. I’ve read that China reliably scores very poorly for happiness, and they’ve got some good reasons to be miserable, but its culturally frowned upon to say you’re happy! Hey, look at me, I’m happy and wonderful! And its the opposite in Denmark, the supposed happiness capital of the world. There you don’t say you aren’t content, because that implies you deserve better. Which would be a bit snotty.

    1. “Happiness can’t be measured across societies”

      It’s measured within countries so these cultural differences shouldn’t matter. Over the last decade, Americans who describe themselves as happy have been in steady decline. Those with mental health issues like suicide, drug abuse, self harm and depression have been on the increase. All this in spite of the fact that America is economically stronger and crime rates are lower,

  23. I think that it’s been quite well proven.
    Money cannot buy happiness.
    However, money can remove things that make you unhappy.
    Stress about paying bills, worry about whether you will be on the street next month, concern about where your next meal will come from. It also can pay for health care and entertainment.

    On the other hand, money, especially extreme wealth, comes with its own stresses. Moochers and freeloaders wanting a cut and a dearth of purpose, as daily work genuinely doesn’t affect your future wealth (after you win the lottery, even a professional salary is trivial). Then, the fact that you are not happy despite your blessings makes you feel entitled, foolish, and spoiled.

    As a general rule, getting a raise will almost always make you happier. Winning the lottery will typically make you less happy.

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